Australia has a unique national identity forged by the form and climate of our land; our original inhabitants; the British settlers who brought the institutions of Westminster parliamentary democracy, British common law, and the rule of law; and millions of later immigrants from other countries. As with all countries, our history embodies some unfortunate events but overwhelmingly it is a story of triumph over adversity in the building of a magnificent nation which is one of the best in the world to live in.
Freedom and Heritage Society of Australia affirms the achievements of our nation builders and of those who have defended our freedom in wars against tyranny. We vigorously reject all manifestations of “cultural pessimism” as peddled by exponents of a black armband view of history.
We also affirm our specific national identity as uniquely Australian, with specific national interests that are ours – we are not just part of a globalizing mass. Australia’s specifically national values, traditions and laws are worth defending and preserving. Calls to subordinate our national identity and interests to supra-national bodies like the UN damage our national sovereignty and endanger our freedoms. It is ruinous to allow the decisions of Australian parliaments, and the wishes of Australian citizens, to be overruled by unelected foreign bureaucrats in bodies like the UN’s Human Rights Commission (composed as it is of other countries whose human rights credentials are in some cases outrageously poor). This leaches the content out of Australian democracy and betrays our freedoms and our values.
Australia is a part of Western civilization
Australia is a part of Western civilization. Our modern, supposedly “universal” human rights are WESTERN rights and are not found in other civilizations such as Chinese and Islamic. Our human rights stem from the Enlightenment and the development of concepts of “natural right” through Christian theology. They do not derive from international organizations like the United Nations.
Freedom and Heritage Society affirms the best values of Western civilization, which is the decisive underpinning of personal freedom, justice, open inquiry and prosperity. As a part of Western civilization, Australia is heir to a culture whose roots are in Athens, Rome and Jerusalem. Our world view and our way of life draw on Greek logic and civil sense, Roman law and individualism, Judeo-Christian moral law, Christian compassion, Humanist erudition, liberal open-mindedness, tolerance and respect for the rights of the individual.
Western civilization is exceptional. No other civilization has been so open to new ideas, or so much fostered individual freedom and competition based on the belief in the possibility and desirability of progress. Our civilization is remarkable for its curiosity, capacity for rigorous pursuit of truth and knowledge, tolerance, and reliability of civil arrangements. It derives great strength from its focus on practical advantages rather than pride, honour and disrespect for “the other”.
The Christian tradition, the Reformation and the Enlightenment brought to the West, including Australia:
- representative democracy,
- universal suffrage (personal, free and secret ballot),
- the separation of powers,
- an independent judiciary,
- a neutral administration,
- mechanisms to protect human rights,
- religious tolerance,
- freedom of scientific research,
- academic freedoms,
- a free press,
- free trade,
- the protection of private material and intellectual property,
- the principle of self-ownership – you are not owned by the State,
- free enterprise,
- the free choice of one’s profession, and
- the obligation to fulfil contractual agreements once entered into voluntarily.
These institutions – the software of our civilization – have served the West superbly well in enabling our economic progress and creating the conditions of a decent life. But unfortunately the liberal character of Western civilization makes it highly vulnerable to several factors which seriously endanger it.
First, there is a postmodern cultural ennui among some elites, who are frankly bored by what they have and take prosperity and freedom for granted.
Second, our public decision makers and institutions such as the courts show a ruinously dangerous preparedness to tolerate behaviours by individuals and groups who have no interest in reciprocating tolerance but whose agendas clearly threaten the freedoms of the majority of citizens.
Third, there is the curse of political correctness and a loss of moral clarity and honesty: where speaking the truth is frowned upon or even criminalized by laws which seek to restrict free speech. The issue of free speech is desperately important: indeed, free speech is the most fundamental of all our Western freedoms.
In The Open Society and its Enemies, Karl Popper wrote:
Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Soviet dissident and fighter for freedom, said in an address to the BBC on March 26, 1976:
How is it that people who have been crushed by the sheer weight of slavery and cast to the bottom of the pit can nevertheless find strength in themselves to rise up and free themselves – first in spirit and then in body – while those who soar unhampered over the peaks of freedom suddenly lose the taste of freedom, lose the will to defend it, and, hopelessly confused and lost, almost begin to crave slavery?
Or again – why is it that societies which have been benumbed for half a century by lies they have been forced to swallow, find within themselves a certain lucidity of heart and soul which enables them to see things in their true perspective and to perceive the real meaning of events; whereas societies with access to every kind of information suddenly plunge into lethargy, into a kind of mass blindness, a kind of voluntary self-deception?
Our Western civilization, the “software” underpinning of our technical progress, material prosperity and freedoms, is not a permanent given, but a precious heritage which every generation needs to teach to the next. The education system, from primary school through to university, is vital to the transmission and survival of our civilization, in the face of many forces which seek to subvert it.
Freedom and Heritage Society believes firmly that the education system must teach the history of Western civilization and the history of our Australian nation. How else can we know who we are? Totalitarians understand how easy it is to change the culture of a country by remaking its history. We have a huge responsibility to our children to ensure that they are taught true and not slanted or distorted history, and given a sound appreciation of the merits of Western civilization.
Multiculturalism – the ideology that all cultures are equal and that immigrants have no responsibility to adapt and integrate into our nation, respect its culture and obey its laws– is a dangerous delusion.